Nunavut environmental science centres

Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (Eureka, NU)

Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory

© Environment Canada, 2008

Environment Canada’s Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL), in Eureka, Nunavut (80N, 86W), is located in Canada’s high Arctic. The facility enables the undertaking of a wide range of collaborative Arctic atmospheric and climate science studies led by the Canadian university community.

Since there are a great many overpasses by polar orbiting satellites at Eureka, the laboratory’s location makes it especially useful for validating Earth observations measured from space. An example of such a satellite is the Canadian SCISAT/Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment, which was launched in 2003. PEARL is part of the International Arctic Systems for Observation of the Atmosphere, whose objective is to produce a legacy of continuous Arctic observations. PEARL is also one of ten circumpolar Arctic observing sites that make up the ground-based Arctic observing systems.


Dr. Neil Trivett Global Atmosphere Watch Observatory ("Alert Observatory") (Alert, NU)

The Dr. Neil Trivett Global Atmosphere Watch Observatory

© Environment Canada, 2008

The Alert World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Observatory is the most northerly site in the global network, located on the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. It serves as an official GAW greenhouse gas inter-comparison site.

GAW is both a research and a monitoring program with a long-term commitment (50-100 years) to the global community to provide atmospheric measurements for climate, air toxics, stratospheric ozone and air quality. The first carbon dioxide sample was made in 1975. As part of the WMO’s atmospheric monitoring program, the Alert Observatory’s long historical record is unique and is, therefore, a key element of the Global Climate Observing System.

Highlights of the facility include:

  • Alert is a sentinel site for characterizing the impact of northern hemisphere human impact on the Arctic atmosphere and ecosystems.
  • Alert is a key site for Arctic atmospheric process studies, which have led to improved understanding of Arctic haze, important chemical interactions of pollutants with snow surfaces (surface depletions of mercury and ozone), emerging air toxics (flame retardant chemicals), changing global greenhouse gas emissions and the magnitude of long range transport of pollutants from the Northern hemisphere (e.g., metals, black carbon).
  • Environment Canada supports the Observatory for its own science programs and international collaborations. It provides an extensive suite of state-of-the-art atmospheric composition and radiation measurements to improve understanding of natural biogeochemical cycles and the human impact on the Arctic environment.

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